It is a cake that would make most dentists grimace, but to my boyfriend who turned 26 last month, it was a glorious sight to behold. It would seem that a sweet tooth never fades with age, and whilst this cake would go down a treat at a children's birthday party, the vivid colours and sugary toppings wouldn't be lost on a 'big kid' either.
I can happily make a box of chocolates disappear in minutes, but when it comes to sweets and hundreds and thousands, I am not interested at all. Which was good news for my boyfriend, who normally has to fend off my relentlessly greedy fork.
I have seen quite a few ombre, or rainbow cakes on Pinterest and always assumed they were tricky, but in fact it requires minimal extra effort and just a little more time. I used my old reliable 'Ultimate Pillow-soft Vanilla Sponge Cake' for the sponge recipe, which is taken from Lily Vanilli's rather appropriately titled book, 'Sweet Tooth'. I simply added in the food colourings and divided the cake batter into four tins rather than two. The buttercream recipe is also from 'Sweet Tooth' and I got the hundreds & thousands inspiration from The Cake Blog, but I definitely didn't find it as easy as they made it look, but more on that in the recipe.
Recipe notes & variations
I purchased the sweets from a pick 'n' mix shop, along with small bags of strawberry laces and a giant lollipop that was the perfect topping for the cake. You can use whatever sweets you want on top of the cake, but I went for as many different sweets as I could find so there were lots of colours and variety. Some of the sweets I used included love hearts, fizzy cola bottles, candy necklaces and jelly babies.
I always use Sugarflair colouring paste, which come in a large variety of colours and last for a long time. I cannot emphasise enough how little you need to use, so when it comes to getting a desired shade, start off with the thinnest scraping and add more.
Of course you can bake more layers and use whatever colours you fancy. You could stick to just two shades and create stripes, or create a full rainbow using lots of layers. It was probably a little cheeky of me to slip in some pink sponge when the recipient would have preferred any colour but!
For the sponge:
330g of plain flour, sifted
320g of caster sugar
1½ tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
175g of unsalted butter, room temperature (I recommend Stork)
3 free-range eggs
190ml whole milk
1½ tsp good vanilla extract
Sugarflair colouring pastes in 'Ice Blue', 'Pink', 'Mint Green' and 'Primrose'
For the vanilla buttercream:
100g unsalted butter, softened
300g of icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
75ml double cream
Sugarflair colouring paste in 'Ice Blue'
For the decoration:
Hundreds and thousands
A collection of sweeties.
A giant lollipop (optional)
The Recipe: makes four layers.
1. Preheat oven to 180°C fan assisted / gas mark 6 and grease and line four 23cm cake tins
2. In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients then beat in the butter until it is incoperated and the mixture resembles a fine crumble mix. Start of on a low speed before whisking on a medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the eggs and whisk, first on a medium, then on a high. Don't over-beat it or you'll burst the air pockets that allow the batter to rise in the oven, keep it on a medium speed.
4. Add the milk and vanilla and beat, on a medium and then on a high, until the mixture is smooth and combined; it will appear a bit lighter in colour - 2-3 minutes.
5. Split the batter into four bowls, adding a spoonful into each bowl at a time so the batter is divided evenly.
6. Add a very small amount of colouring paste to one of the bowls of batter, mixing and adding more until you have reached the desired colour. Repeat with the remaining three bowls and chosen colouring pastes
7. Pour the four mixtures into a cake tin each and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean and dry.
8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes in the cake tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Whilst the sponge is cooling, prepare the buttercream.
9. Beat the butter alone for 4-5 minutes on a high speed, the butter should appear lighter and creamier.
10. Add the sugar, vanilla and cream and beat on a low speed to incorporate it all together
11. Add a very small amount of the sugar paste and beat on a high speed until the desired colour is achieved.
12. Trim and level out each sponge if needed and spread some buttercream in-between each layer, stacking in the desired colour order. Leave the top of the cake bare.
13. Spread the buttercream around the edges of the cake, smoothing out with a scraper.
14. Leave the buttercream to harden slightly.
14. Spread out the hundreds and thousands onto a baking tray and carefully turn the cake on its side and rolling it across the baking tray. I struggled with this as I put far to much butter cream in-between and around the sponge, whilst it was still a little warm and didn't leave the buttercream to harden, resulting in the layers moving around far to freely.
15. Place the cake back onto a cake stand and use a flat knife to transfer hundreds and thousands to any gaps on the cake.
16. Add the last of the buttercream to the top and decorate with sweets
17. Sprinkle on gold crunch and edible glitter, or any other sparkling additions. I also coated the lollypop in glitter to give it even more sparkle!